What Does Opossum Poop Look Like?
Opossums are unique animals for many reasons.
For one, most snake venoms can’t kill them. They help to reduce Lyme diseases by eating infected ticks. And when threatened, they play dead.
For that reason, opossums are quite fun to watch. The only problem is that they destroy gardens and they poop a lot. In this article, we’ll focus on how dangerous their poops can be and how to remove them.
But first, let’s clear the air on one thing:
Opossum Vs Possum: What’s the Difference?
Of course, the two names sound alike. In fact, possums and opossums are both animals. It’s only that these two animals belong to slightly different groups.
Because of that, there’s a minor difference in their habitat, physical features, and survival instincts. However, North Americans often use the two words interchangeably for the same animal.
This is quite untrue. So, let’s try to discuss a few of those dichotomized differences between possums and opossums, shall we?
- Possums and opossums are native to different environments.
Mostly, opossums are found in Northern America and Southern Canada. Whereas possums are endemic to areas like China, New Zealand, Guinea, and Australia.
- The Appearance of their tails is different.
Most possums have very hairy tails. Often, people even mistake them for squirrels. Some even describe the common possum as the brush tail possum.
As for opossums, their tails are bare and rather hairless. For that reason, some people often mistake opossums for gigantic rats.
- Opossums and possums also differ in terms of size and body color.
Opossums with a max weight of 14 pounds are heavier than most possums. Although, some possums can weigh as much as 20 pounds.
Besides that, opossums often come with coarse fur that’s colored white on their faces. Whereas possums have thick fur, that’s brown or golden.
- Opossums have one species while possums have many species.
There are several kinds of possums out there. There are the ringtail possums, the glider possums, and many more.
Opossums have only one species, the Virginia opossums.
- Opossums and possums respond to danger differently
Often, opossums play dead when threatened.
During this virtual death state, they would play dormant and produce a terrible scent that is like that of an actual dead animal. That way, the predator would consider them dead and just passes by.
However, many species of possums don’t play dead. In fact, they even walk up to humans and display friendly gestures.
Opossums survive more in the wild than possums.
Are Opossums Dangerous?
The thing is; opossums, themselves, are not innately dangerous. Even though they are wild animals that often attack to defend themselves and their young ones.
However, unlike other animals like wolves and hyenas, these animals rarely attack humans. Instead, they would make a silent hiss or a much louder growl to scare away humans and other predators.
But over the years, this sound strategy had stopped working for them. So, as evolution would have it, opossums now prefer to play dead when they see strangers and predators.
This death state is so perfect that the concerned opossums even give out that scent that’s reminiscent of a carcass. Yet, they would be alive. And they can remain like that for about two hours.
However, when you look at things from another perspective, opossums can also be very dangerous. For one, they are pesky creatures that disturb and destroy gardens.
This happens because opossums can eat anything edible. From berries to frogs to food leftovers, everything is a go.
If they get the chance, opossums feast on everything edible in your yard. So, if you have a garden, you need to protect it from opossums.
Besides that, opossums feed on chicken poops that’s normally infested with different pathogens. They even eat ticks on other animals like cats, dogs, and horses.
Now, the issue is that these pathogens like ticks, lice, fleas, and mites carry different diseases. This disease rarely affects the opossums. But they are dangerous to man, his pets, and his livestock like cows and horses.
Common diseases often transmitted by opossums include tuberculosis, spotted fever, leptospirosis, tularemia, and coccidiosis. So, indirectly, opossums can be very dangerous.
But since the pathogens for all these diseases are found in the opossum feces, what’s actually dangerous are opossum poops. So, avoid and get rid of those at all costs.
What Does Opossum Poops Look Like? – Opossum Poop Identification.
Opossum poops have tapering ends. On both sides, they appear to be smoothly shaved.
Unlike rat pooping, opossum dung is not straightened. Instead, they are curled.
In terms of color, opossum droppings appear to be black. Although sometimes, their poops may be enclosed.
When encased, the poop color may appear yellowish or white. This white color is often because of the growth of fungi like mold on the outer parts of the casing.
Sometimes, a few people claim to see one or two seed-like substances in the poop of an opossum. However, such seed-embedded poops most likely belong to a raccoon.
Likewise, raccoon poops are cut off from a continuous stream. So, instead of one rather long mass, their poops comprise bit-sized pellets that are broken off. Yes, like those of rats; only bigger.
As for opossums, their poop rarely breaks off. So, you will often see those droppings as one long mass that’s bent in the direction where the opossums face as they poop.
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Opossum Poop Size: How Big is an Opossum Poop?
The size of an opossum dropping may depend on whether the concerned opossum is young or mature.
But opossum poops are about ¾ of an inch in terms of diameter. So, that makes their poop as big as those of dogs.
In terms of length, you can expect anything between one and three inches long. So, that also makes them as long as those cats and skunks.
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How Do Opossum Poops Smell Like?
In most cases, opossums urinate very close to their poops. Their poops have a very putrid smell, similar to that of ammonia.
However, from our findings, we discovered that the smell of opossum poop depends on the diet maintained by the opossum.
For instance, some opossums have more access to fruits like berries than to small animals like frogs. The smell of their poops may be different.
But one thing is sure, no matter the diet; an opossum poop will reek of ammonia because most opossums urinate on their droppings.
Urine comprises majorly ammonia. Hence the smell. Interpreting this scent depends on the person perceiving the odor.
So, whether you feel an opossum’s poop smells like a cat’s to a dog’s or a skunk’s, it all depends on you.
Is Opossum Feces Toxic?
Yes, opossum droppings are very dangerous. This is because often, they contain different pathogens. These pathogens can cause fatal diseases.
Worst still, these diseases cannot only kill and affect humans, they can also affect dogs, cats, and horses as well.
You can get infected by these diseases by simply touching infected surfaces like soil, water, food, or coming in direct contact with the poops.
Some common diseases caused by opossums may include:
- Leptospirosis – kills about 59,000 people worldwide every year.
- Salmonella – kills about 420 United States citizens every year.
- Tularaemia – kills about 100 people in the US every year.
- Coccidiosis – kills many chickens, dogs, cats, cows, and goats every year. It even infects humans as well.
- Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM) – that affcets horses’ brain. It also kills many horses every year.
In fact, in recent times, opossums and possums’ feces cause a very rare kind of ulcer in humans.
According to Prof. Daniel O’Brien from Barwon Health, opossum poops can contain bacteria called the Buruli bacteria.
Over the years, these bacteria have caused skin ulcers that can eat your flesh to the bone. This ulcer is called the Bairnsdale ulcer and it can be very difficult to treat.
Do Opossums Poop When They Play Dead?
Yes, they do. But to explain this, let’s talk a bit about how opossums play dead.
When Opossums sense danger, they would at first try to harass the threat with silent hisses and loud growls. If the threat subsides, then all is well.
However, if the threat persists, especially if the opossums are not with their young, alone or the threat is from a potential predator, the opossums respond by playing dead.
When playing the fake death role, such opossums will pause or reduce their breathing to the barest minimum. Afterward, their bodies will go stiff and begin to suddenly grow cold.
At some point, they would stick out their tongue and salivate. Right on the spot, they poop in continuous drops.
The opossums will no longer respond, no matter the intensity or number of pokes you give them. They would even smell dead. And when a predator discovers this, it walks away.
However, an opossum can remain in this induced death-like state for about two hours. After the threat is gone, it jumps back up and continues its affairs as normal.
How to Remove Opossum Poops in Pools
Opossums are quite dirty. They poop anywhere they go. And your pool is just one of those places.
Other places include garages, garbage areas, attics, basements, and even within your house if they have the chance.
Here, let’s look at how you can remove opossum droppings from pools:
- Get a net with a very long handle. Wear protective equipment like gloves and nose masks.
- Use the net to remove as much hard poop as possible.
- It might be very difficult to use a vacuum without damaging the vacuum cleaner. So, it’s not advisable to use it. So, stick with the net, no matter how long it takes.
- Empty the trash can or bucket used to collect the poops somewhere far. You can even bury the poops.
- Wash all materials used with a detergent and water. Dawn liquid soap works quite well against the fleas in the poops. You can also use vinegar or any other disinfectant you have as well.
- Disinfect the pool as well. And empty the water and pump in a fresh round.
Opossums are unique and dirty and they poop everywhere they find themselves.
These poops are very dangerous. They are as big as dog pools. They smell like a dog or cat or skunk poop. And they cause several diseases.
Such diseases include Flesh-Eating Ulcers in men, Brain disorders in horses, coccidiosis in chickens, and Fleas in dogs. You must take care of opossums poops by all means safe and professional.